5 Tips to Master Hard-to-Remember Vocabulary

One of the most common difficulties most people have when learning a new language is trying to remember new vocabulary words. It’s said that you can start communicating in a foreign language  by knowing between 500 and 1,000 words, but even that can feel like a big task!

In addition, if you’re trying to learn a language that’s very different from your native language, it can seem even more difficult to remember so much.

Whether you’ve tried flashcards, lists, or any number of methods to learn new words, you’ve probably wondered whether one way works better than another. The truth is that there isn’t a secret method, but there are a few tricks to help you retain all of that vocabulary. Read on to find out how you can master the art of remembering vocabulary. 

Use mnemonic devices

A ‘mnemonic device’ is a term that’s generally used to describe any sort of technique that helps you remember something more easily.

Have you ever used a melody to remember the months of the year or a particular phrase to remember a rule? If so, you’ve used a mnemonic device.

Mnemonic devices can also include rhymes, images, and acronyms. For example, you may have heard someone use ROY G BIV to remember the names for the colours of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).

Visualise or use pictures

You’ll find a lot of flashcard apps provide pictures to help you remember new words. This is more effective than just trying to remember a translation of a word in your native language. The reason for this? Well, you’ll have an easier time trying to remember a word that you’ve directly associated with a picture or a visualisation of an object.

If you really want to boost your memory, try to visualise something that has a specific meaning for you. For example, if you’re trying to remember the French word for pillow, oreiller, think of your favourite pillow. Visualise how comfortable it is on your bed. 

Write it down and read it out loud

No matter how you choose to study vocabulary words, don’t forget to write them down and read them out loud. Not only will this help you remember spelling and pronunciation, but it allows your brain to absorb the same information in multiple ways.

Plus, we’re more likely to remember something that we’re actively involved in. Which is why you’re more likely to remember what you’ve said in a conversation than what you heard during a presentation.

Don’t cram

When you’re busy, it’s all too easy to forget about or push aside valuable study time. Everyone has struggled to keep up with learning schedules at some point. Many of us have tried to simply cram more study time into shorter periods.

Unfortunately, cramming information all at once isn’t likely to help in the long-term. Consolidating your learning time into one long, intensive session usually leads to increased stress and a decreased ability to recall that information later on.

Reduce your stress

It isn’t just cramming that poses a problem for your memory. Research has shown that too much stress isn’t good for your concentration or your brain’s ability to store and retrieve new information.  

If you’ve been under a lot of pressure or you’re feeling overwhelmed by your language learning efforts, you might benefit from a bit of relaxation. Instead of focusing your remaining energy on all of the new words you need to memorise, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. You might be surprised by how much of a difference it makes!

How can we help you?

Lingoda can also help with your language learning. We offer classes in English, Business English, German, Spanish and French.

By taking regular classes, you will increase your confidence and vocabulary quickly. You can also keep your learning materials so you can visualise, practise and learn more vocabulary – even when you aren’t in class!

You can also connect with us on our social channels for all the latest language learning hints and tips: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and VK.